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Reps. Katherine Clark and Hal Rogers Warn of a ‘Worldwide’ Opioid Crisis, Blame Purdue Pharma

  • Reps. Katherine Clark and Hal Rogers demanded an explanation from the World Health Organization in a report released Wednesday.
  • They accuse the organization of blindly amplifying opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma’s marketing.
  • The report details several organizations and individuals who link Purdue and WHO through both funding and proximity.

Reps. Katherine Clark and Hal Rogers demanded an explanation from the World Health Organization in a report released Wednesday that accuses the organization of blindly amplifying opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma’s marketing.

Clark, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, warn in the report of a “significant risk of sparking a worldwide health crisis” because of what they characterize as the drug company’s undue influence on WHO guidelines.

“We are highly troubled that, after igniting the opioid epidemic that cost the United States 50,000 lives in 2017 alone and tens of billions of dollars annually, Purdue is deliberately using the same playbook on an international scale,” Clark and Rogers wrote.

“Moreover, we are disturbed that the WHO, a trusted international agency, appears to be lending the opioid industry its voice and credibility.”

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The report details several organizations and individuals who link Purdue and WHO through both funding and proximity.

Clark and Rogers accuse WHO of parroting Purdue’s faulty talking points, including that prescription opioids came with a less than 1 percent risk of developing substance abuse disorder.

In terms of funding, the report pointed out several instances of organizations that receive funding from Purdue giving funding to WHO.

For example, Purdue and its international arm Mundipharma contributed funds to the American Pain Society.

Do you think Purdue Pharma should face consequences for allegedly making the "worldwide" opioid crisis worse?

APS provided funding for the WHO’s 2011 and 2012 guideline development on prescribing opioids for adults and children.

APS declined comment to The Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday.

In a Wednesday tweet, Clark called for the WHO to rescind those guidelines, “provide a comprehensive explanation of why their internal controls failed to prevent this scheme, and issue a warning to the world that these documents are false, flawed and dangerous.”

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The report also detailed Purdue’s 1996 budget plan, which declared its goal to become the “opioid of choice” on the second rung of WHO’s pain treatment ladder.

The plan states Purdue’s goal of “positioning OxyContin as the opioid to start with and stay with, thereby expanding the use of Step 2 [on WHO’s pain ladder].”

Rogers and Clark got the ball rolling on the report after the WHO ignored a letter they wrote to its director general about Purdue’s “dangerous and deceptive tactics” in 2017, they said.

Rogers is co-founder and co-chair of the Prescription Drug Abuse Caucus.

Clark is a member of the Prescription Drug Abuse Caucus as well as the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

Their report comes about a week after five more states filed lawsuits against Purdue, joining 39 states suing the company claiming that it illegally marketed opioids.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced May 15 that it will stop accepting gifts from members of the Sackler family still associated with Purdue Pharma.

Purdue Pharma and WHO did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s requests for comment.

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